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Oustees to move to Bhopal from 30th of June if Government ignores demands

Oustees to move to Bhopal from 30th of June if Government ignores demands

Thousands of people displaced by the Indira Sagar and Omkareshwar dams are sitting in the district place of Khandwa since the 4th of June 2007. On the 4th of June, more than twelve thousand persons had taken out a rally in the town and had declared that they were commencing a phase of indefinite struggle which would be concluded only when their demands are met. Today is the twenty first day of the 4 persons who began their indefinite fast from the 6th of June, 2007. However despite the fact that the people had clearly stated their demands and sent their petition with regard to the State Government from the very first day of the struggle, the State government had failed to respond to the demands of the struggle, and had sought to ignore it completely. As a result, the oustees have taken the decision, that if the Government fails to meet the demands of the people by the 29th of June 2007, intensifying the struggle, the people would move to Bhopal to continue their indefinite fast and dharna.

It may be noted that today is the twenty-first day of the fast of the Narmada Bachao Andolan activists Ms. Chittaroopa Palit and Shri Bhagwan Mukati and oustees of the Indira Sagar dam Krishnabai and Surajbai. Despite steady deterioration in their health, the four persons on fast are determined that their fast would continue until the demands of the oustees are met.

The silence and the indifference of the State Government in the last 23 days of the dharna has made it clear that while the State government wishes to deny thousands of oustees of these two dams, especially those of Dalits, tribals and small and marginal farmers their lawful rights, it has also become clear that there is no Rule of Law in the State as the Government itself is flouting the orders of the Courts with impunity. On the 8th of September 2006, the Madhya Pradesh High Court ruled that the adult sons and adult unmarried daughters of cultivators losing more than 25% of their entire holding would be provided a minimum 5 acres of irrigated land or a Special Rehabilitation Grant in lieu. However even after 9 months, the Government is yet to comply with the Order. It is clear that it is in order to provide undue pecuniary advantage to the Company – NHDC that this is being done. Similarly, the denial of the land entitlements to even a single oustee has brought about a situation of large scale starvation and un-employment among the oustees.

The NBA is demanding that alongside providing the cultivator oustees and their adult sons and daughters their land entitlements, the landless families must be given rights over the draw-down land in the submergence, which will open after the monsoons. In addition, the NBA demands that the thousands of houses which have been excluded arbitrarily and without cause after the pre-Section 4 surveys and after Section 9 notifications be acquired as per law, along with villages that will become islands or unlivable. The NBA is also demanding that all the required life-amenities be provided at the R&R sites and that all the outstanding cases of complaints of the oustees about failure to provide the entitlements be immediately resolved. It may be noted that in the last three weeks of the dharna, around 12,000 complaints and claims have been filed with the State Government and the NHDC.

It is unfortunate that despite the fact that the oustees have conveyed their demands with great clarity to the district administration and the NHDC, there is no action on the same. Therefore on the 21st day of the indefinite fast , the NBA declares that if the State Government does not respond to the demands of the oustees for their rights and entitlements by the 29th of June, stepping up the struggle, the oustees would move to Bhopal to carry out the indefinite dharna and fast.

(Alok Agarwal)

(Vishram Singh Mandloi)

Village Dharaji, Dt. Dewas

(Bhagirath)

Village Ekhand, Dt. Khandwa

(Mohanbhai)

Village Bichola Mal, Dt. Harda